These simple exercises will get you ready to garden and keep you healthy

January 13, 2017 | Doug Oster comments

It seems the older we get, the more benches and other places to sit we need in the garden.

Exercise physiologists Patrick Martin and Ryan Taucher from Excela Health actually think it’s a great idea to have some places to rest in the garden.

“It’s good for your mind and it’s good for your body, to focus, think and see how you feel,” Taucher says.
Whatever your age, now is the time for gardeners to get in shape for the season, says Martin, supervisor of Excela’s Well Being Center.

Ryan Taucher, exercise physiologist for Excela Heath shows how to do a cross body shoulder stretch.

Ryan Taucher, exercise physiologist for Excela Heath shows how to do a cross body shoulder stretch.

“Flexibility is key,” he says. “If you don’t keep your body flexible, your muscles are going to atrophy and tighten up. The less we use our bodies, the more prone to injury we’re going to be.”
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Ryan Taucher, exercise physiologist for Excela Heath shows how to do a good stretch for the lower back and hamestrings.

Ryan Taucher, exercise physiologist for Excela Heath shows how to do a good stretch for the lower back and hamestrings.

oing some simple stretching before and after garden chores will go a long way to avoiding the soreness associated with those first weeks of planting.

Ryan Taucher, exercise physiologist for Excela Heath shows how to do one version of a stretch for quadricep muscles.

Ryan Taucher, exercise physiologist for Excela Heath shows how to do one version of a stretch for quadricep muscles.

“Start from the top of your head and work your way all the way down,” Martin says. “I always tell people to count out loud, because you want to keep breathing, and don’t bounce; once you feel the tension hold it.” Martin reminds gardeners to take it slow and listen to your body. “If you start feeling pain, that’s your body’s indication something’s wrong, you don’t want to feel pain.”
When the weather breaks, it’s best to have yourself ready, he says. “First of all, gardening, landscaping and cutting grass is a huge workout and that’s a spring thing. In the winter we’re not doing much. If you don’t keep your body warmed up, inactivity will take a toll.”

Ryan Taucher, exercise physiologist for Excela Heath shows how to do squats using a chair as a saftey so he doesn't go down too far.

Ryan Taucher, exercise physiologist for Excela Heath shows how to do squats using a chair as a saftey so he doesn’t go down too far.

Martin has a few reminders when you do get back outside.
He knows it’s a cliche, but it’s an important thing to remember. “Lift with your legs, not your back,” he says.
When working in the garden, keep tools like rakes and shovels close to your body; don’t overextend.
“You want to engage the core and strengthen the core,” says Martin, who suggests holding your abdomen tight when lifting. “If that core is not strong, the rest of the body can’t follow in proper functionality.”
The body needs water constantly when gardening, too.
“You get outside, you’re working against the elements of nature,” Martin says. “Whether it’s 10 degrees or 100 degrees, you’re body is going to sweat and hydration is going to be needed.”
“What’s really important is to hydrate before you even start the work. Two to three hours before,” Taucher says.
When doing your stretches or strength exercises, it’s important to enjoy yourself, Taucher says. “Have fun with it, make it creative. You could even do it out in the garden.”

Find out more at Excela Health.

Doug Oster is the Tribune-Review home and garden editor. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or doster@tribweb.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodygardens.com.